April 5, 2013

March Employment Situation Summary (040513): Only 88K SA Jobs Added, Jobless Rate Drops to 7.6%; Raw Job-Add Numbers Worst Since 2009; Drop-outs Accelerate

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:03 am

Econ catch-up: See Wednesday’s post containing a stream of “unexpectedly” unimpressive though still expansionary results. Plus: The unemployment claims situation has been deteriorating.


Looking at the raw (not seasonally adjusted) data:

Regardless of what the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us about the seasonally adjusted results today, the real clues as to what’s actually going on are in the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) data. As I explained in a recent column about housing stats:

Because of the POR economy, the influences of the recession and three straight subsequently weak “recovery summers” following on the heels of somewhat strong winters have preempted typical seasonal fluctuations.

In other words, the seasonally adjusted numbers are somewhere between misleading and meaningless.

So here are the raw and seasonally adjusted numbers for the first six months of the past 12 years, plus 2013 year thus far:


In this backdrop, considering all the people who say they want a job but can’t find one, the still historically awful time the unemployed are taking to find their next job, and the fact that more jobs are becoming part-time in nature, we need to see numbers that beat any seen in the past 10 years. That means at least 1.05 million jobs added overall, and 900,000 in the private sector. If those things happen, the figures will probably seasonally adjust to about 300K, and the press will start measuring the rocks for Barack Obama’s bust at Mt. Rushmore.

Looking out further, we’ve seen the following not seasonally adjusted job additions from Feb. – June during the past three years, none of which were acceptable:
– 2010 — 3.316 million
– 2011 — 4.149 million
– 2012 — 3.862 million

What I said a year ago about what Feb.-June 2012 needed to be is still true this year:

An authentically recovering economy making a real dent in a horribly underutilized workforce should generate six million jobs on the ground during the next five months. If it doesn’t, it won’t be genuinely recovering, no matter what the seasonally adjusted numbers say, and no matter what Team Obama and their media lapdogs want us to believe they say.

If that seems too ambitious — too bad, so sad. Adjusted for workforce size, those are the kinds of gains we saw during much of the Reagan recovery/boom — and we didn’t have to wait until four years after a recession ended to see them (more like two quarters).

The BLS report will be here at 8:30 a.m.

HERE IT IS (full HTML permalink) Wow, the pie continues to shrink —

Nonfarm payroll employment edged up in March (+88,000), and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment grew in professional and business services and in health care but declined in retail trade.

Household Survey Data

Both the number of unemployed persons, at 11.7 million, and the unemployment rate, at 7.6 percent, were little changed in March.

The civilian labor force declined by 496,000 over the month, and the labor force participation rate decreased by 0.2 percentage point to 63.3 percent. The employment-population ratio, at 58.5 percent, changed little.

… Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment edged up in March (+88,000). Over the prior 12 months, employment growth had averaged 169,000 per month. In March, employment increased in professional and business services and in health care, while retail trade employment declined. (See table B-1.)

Professional and business services added 51,000 jobs in March. Over the past 12 months, employment in this industry has grown by 533,000. Within professional and business services, accounting and bookkeeping services added 11,000 jobs over the month, and employment continued to trend up in temporary help services and in several other component industries.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from +119,000 to +148,000, and the change for February was revised from +236,000 to +268,000.

Unless you have a crystal ball and expect big upward revisions to March (they seem just as likely to go down), the fact that January and February were better than originally thought merely underscores how bad the March dive to a level that’s only one-third of February really is.

Keep in mind that the numbers here are based on work performed or checks paid to workers as of the 12th of the month. I think a lot of people would agree that things have gotten worse since then.


UPDATE 1, 9 a.m.: How bad is it? This bad:


March 2013′s raw numbers, which by the way include 92,000 plugged-in “birth/death” jobs (about the same as last year’s 90,000) are worse than 2010, and way worse than 2011 and 2012. All three of those years were economically pathetic.

Here we go again.

The press will try to blame the sequester and “massive government spending cuts,” if it hasn’t started doing so already. UPDATE 1A: You can forget about that 6 million job goal for February thru June. We’ll be lucky to see 4.5 million, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we see less than 4 million — again.

UPDATE 2, 9:10 A.M.: Zero Hedge — “People Not In Labor Force Soar By 663,000 To 90 Million, Labor Force Participation Rate At 1979 Levels.”

UPDATE 3, 9:20 A.M.: From the “Something Gotta Give” Dept. — The Household Survey says seasonally adjusted full-time employment is only up by 35,000 since December, and that part-time employment is down by 60,000, netting to a -25K. The Establishment Survey has +504K during the same period. UPDATE 3A: Upon further review, it’s virtually all due to the ranks of the self-employed, who are not considered in the Estblishment Survey, shrinking by a seasonally adjusted 528,000.



  1. That’s one hell of a miss. Regarding the historically-low labor participation rate (worst seasonally-adjusted since 1979, and worst unadjusted March since 1978), it’s not exactly the Boomers retiring that’s driving that down. In fact, those 55 and older are participating as nearly never before, while those under 55 are not participating in numbers not seen in decades. The non-seasoned LPR by age group:

    16-24 years old – 52.8% (worst March since 1966)
    25-34 years old – 81.1% (worst March since 1983)
    35-44 years old – 82.3% (worst March since 1984)
    45-54 years old – 79.6% (worst March since 1988, with the 50-54 group’s 78.0% the worst March since 1991)
    55-59 years old – 73.4% (3th-best March since records began in 1977, behind only 2009 and 2010)
    60-64 years old – 55.0% (4th-best March since records began in 1977, behind only 2009, 2010 and 2012)
    65-69 years old – 32.4% (2nd-best March since records began in 1982, behind only 2011)
    70-74 years old – 18.3% (tied for 2nd-best March since records began in 1987, behind only 2011)
    75 years old and older – 8.4% (best March since records began in 1987)

    Comment by steveegg — April 5, 2013 @ 9:09 am

  2. Great work. Looks like you were “expecting” the “unexpected.” :–>

    Comment by Tom — April 5, 2013 @ 9:13 am

  3. Jim Cramer on the Jobs Report “It’s a Permanent Unemployment Level”:


    Comment by Steve — April 5, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

  4. This is a great story, but the low-information voter doesn’t care. Never will. How do we reach these morons and convince them they made a big mistake in reelecting Obama?

    Comment by toledojim — April 5, 2013 @ 7:36 pm

  5. [...] guess Ms. Lowrey somehow missed or chose to ignore Friday’s awful employment news and several other government and private reports issued early last week indicating that the alleged [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — April 8, 2013 @ 8:31 am

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